Death rates in decline but more needs to be done to battle prostate cancer

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By this week, men may be starting to sport Sellecks, Stalins or even a Salvador Dali, as moustaches make their mark on men’s faces across the country - all in aid of Movember.

This is the month where being extra hairy becomes almost fashionable as men everywhere harness their upper lip hair in a bid to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer, as well as raising cash for innovative research into the disease.

The Movember idea was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003 by two mates, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, discussing fashion and recurring trends.

They questioned where the ‘Mo’ had gone and joked about bringing it back. Inspired by a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer, they decided to make the campaign about men’s health and prostate cancer. They designed rules and guidelines for Movember – which are still in place today – and agreed to charge ten dollars to grow a ‘Mo’.

Travis designed the first Movember logo, and they sent around an email titled ‘Are you man enough to be my man?’ They found 30 mates willing to take up the challenge and chose the month of November, renaming it ‘Movember’.

Now there are more than 1.1 million ‘Mo’s’ across the world and through the power of the moustache, the charity has become a truly global movement that is changing the face of men’s health. Not only does Movember aim to raise awareness of men’s health, but it also focusses on the physical and mental health issues faced by men living with cancer.

While taking part in Movember is all about ‘havin’ fun, doin’ good’, there are “rules” which participants have to abide by which include beginning the month with a clean shaven face, grooming and growing their moustache for the full 30 days, no joining of ‘the Mo’ with either sideburns – that’s considered a beard – or to any hair on the chin – that’s considered a goatee.

In addition each Mo Bro must conduct himself “like a true gentleman” and, of course, try to raise as much sponsorship as possible!

And while ‘Movember’ exists to change the face of men’s health and make sure more men notice the early signs of cancer, there is some good news to report.

Cancer Research UK has just announced that death rates from prostate cancer in Scotland have fallen by 18 per cent since the early 1990s according to new figures.

At their peak in the early 90s, there were around 29 deaths per 100,000 men but this figure has fallen to around 24 deaths per 100,000.

The downward trend is largely as a result of new approaches to treating prostate cancer such as earlier, more widespread use of hormone therapy, radical surgery and radiotherapy, as well as the earlier diagnosis of some cancers linked to the use of the PSA test.

But while this downward trend is good news, more work needs to be done to reduce the number of men dying from this disease even further.

Prof Hing Leung, Cancer Research UK’s prostate cancer expert based at the CRUK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, said: “This new report shows we’ve come a long way in improving the treatment of prostate cancer in the last couple of decades. And improvements in how we treat prostate cancer have been key to reducing deaths of men diagnosed with the disease. But a lot more work still needs to be done.

“We still don’t understand why some prostate cancers turn out be harmless – the grass snakes – while others are aggressive – the vipers – and resistant to treatment. Better tests and improved treatment are necessary for us to build on what we have achieved so far. Last year Cancer Research UK spent £18 million on prostate cancer research which we hope will bring us one step closer to beating this terrible disease.”

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “We now have more prostate cancer trials and more research programmes happening than ever before. We have also been working especially hard to decode the genetic changes in prostate cancer, which holds great promise for the future. But we can still do more – we need a better screening test, better diagnostics, better treatments – and research is the answer to this challenge”.

For more information on Movember visit and for details about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, call 0300 123 1022 or visit